Tag Archives: charlie jane anders

10 Things New Science Fiction Writers Should Know

Being a science fiction creator is the most amazing adventure — you get to invent whole new worlds, brand new futures, and fantastic technologies, and you get to tell the most incredible stories about them. But it’s also a tough and heartbreaking career path, whether you’re in books, comics, movies or television. Here are 10 things that every brand new science fiction creator ought to know at the start.

Top image: guitfiddle on Deviant Art.

1) You’re still just telling personal stories

This is kind of a big one — no matter who you are or what kind of work you’re doing, you’re still telling a story that’s personally meaningful to you. Because science fiction is so idea-focused and so often driven by technologies or world-changing discoveries, it’s easy to lose sight of that. But not finding the personal story inside your huge alien-invasion narrative is the easiest way to fail. The only way to stand out, and the only way to tell stories that are going to move others, is to figure out what you’re personally connecting to in your work, no matter how clever or widescreen your premise.

2) The things everybody remembers about their favorite stories are never why those stories work

We see this all the time nowadays — once a movie or book becomes a classic, people fixate on that one cool moment or that one clever line of dialogue. (Or sometimes, they fixate on something totally random, that just became a meme for some reason.) But no matter what, that one cool moment is not why people love that story — they love it for everything that sets up the cool moment, and everything else that makes it a great story. And this is why nostalgia is so deadly — because nostalgia tends to focus on the tip of the iceberg rather than the huge frozen juggernaut beneath. So if you spend a lot of time trying to recreate the coolest moment from your favorite TV episode, you’ll miss the stuff that mostly goes unnoticed, which made people care in the first place. Nostalgia always cheats, and the only answer is to try and create your own thing.

10 Things That Every Brand New Creator of Science Fiction Should Know

Image via JadrienC/Deviant Art.

3) Science fiction is always about the time when it was created

4) Ideas aren’t stories

Basically, you need to understand the difference between a premise and a plot. (This took me years to master, and I’m still not always great at telling the difference.) A premise is “in the future, everybody has a brain chip that regulates emotion.” A plot is “one person’s brain chip malfunctions,” or “someone invents a second brain chip that allows technology, but people who have both chips go insane.” A story that just lays out a basic premise isn’t really a story at all — it’s a pitch, at best. The hard part is often turning the idea into an actual story, and see point #1 above — you need to find what’s speaking to you personally about this premise.

5) Even if you perfectly imitated your heroes, you’d still fail.

Let’s say you manage to write a book that Ursula K. Le Guin could have written, or you figure out how to direct a movie exactly like James Cameron. Leaving aside the impossibility of fully capturing the style of one of the genre’s great originals, you’ll still be kind of screwed. For one thing, even if people may say they’re looking for the next James Cameron, they don’t mean they’re looking for a carbon copy of James Cameron. It’ll just fall flat. For another, the field is constantly changing, and if you copy your heroes too much, you risk coming up with a perfect rendition of what everybody was looking for 20 years ago. Pay homage to Le Guin all you want — but you also have to work to develop your own style, that’s something new and fresh.

6) Cool story ideas are dime a dozen.

People get paranoid about having their ideas stolen, or being accused of stealing someone else’s idea, or “wasting” an idea, or whatever. But ideas really are as common as dirt, and it’s easy to come up with more. Even cool ideas. Just spend half an hour reading New Scientist, or scanning the front page of the newspaper, or watching people in a public place — story ideas come from everywhere. And they’re mostly worthless. Even if you come up with a clever story idea that would make a Hollywood producer’s ears prick up, it’s still worthless unless you can turn it into something. And that, in turn, requires coming up with a protagonist who’s fascinating and belongs in the middle of that cool idea. Ideas are easy, but stories are freakishly hard.

7) Resist the urge to give up on your characters

If your characters aren’t clicking, or if you can’t figure out how to make them go in the direction your plot needs them to go in, that usually means you need to take a step back and think about what they’re really going through and what they would really feel in that situation. It’s tempting to push them into a pat resolution that satisfies your plot needs but doesn’t actually make that much sense for the characters. It’s also tempting to fall into a bleak, “existential” ending where your characters fail, just because you’re annoyed with them and can’t figure out what else to do with them. (And there’s nothing worse than a bleak ending that hasn’t been earned.) The end of your story is not a finish line, and this isn’t a race. Sometimes you need to go back and figure out where you went wrong.

8) Trends are at least half over by the time you know about them

Seriously. Everybody who’s been around for a while has a sob story in which they (or a friend) tried to jump on that hot vampire romance trend, or that super-popular “dystopian teen fiction” trend, and then realized that the trend was already on its last legs. You shouldn’t chase trends anyway, because that’s probably not going to result in work that you’re going to feel as good about in the end. But even if trend-chasing was a good idea, bear in mind there’s a long pipeline for books and an even longer one for movies or TV — the things you see coming out right now represent the trends that are already ending.

10 Things That Every Brand New Creator of Science Fiction Should KnowSExpand

Image: Ben Wootten via Concept Ships

9) Doing your homework is half the battle

Research is a huge part of writing really good science fiction, especially if you’re speculating about future developments. Learn how to talk to scientists about their work — if you seem smart and interested in telling good stories about science, they’ll often be willing to talk toyou. Also, learn how to read scientific papers and do research. And learn how to do research about other cultures and other times, too — even if you’re not writing about them, it’ll make your worldbuilding way stronger.

10) You’re the worst judge of your own work

This never really stops being true, for a lot of us. Especially when you’ve just finished something, you often can’t see what’s working. There’s no substitute at all for getting feedback from others, and running your work past professionals as much as you possibly can. Join a critique group or take classes, just to get more feedback on your work. When you wonder why your favorite writer or director has gone downhill since they became a megastar, it’s usually because they stopped getting feedback on their work. But especially when you’re starting out, you need constant abuse to get better at your craft.


Filed under Writing

Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

As an author I found this very helpful.  I was pleased to see that I have read most of the books as well.  Putting good reading into your head helps get good writing out of it.  These descriptions are far from the police version – 6 foot, medium build, 30s, caucasion male.  I think all of us can learn to think a bit outside the box in creating our descriptions.

Reposted from StumbleUpon, from I09, written by CHARLIE JANE ANDERS AND MANDY CURTIS.

Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

The best science fiction and fantasy books aren’t just about amazing ideas, or huge vistas — they’re about people. So part of the key to a really successful SF/fantasy book is to describe people in a memorable, cool fashion.

A good description of a character goes a long way to letting you get to know that person — but it’s a tricky business. The best way to learn this challenging skill is by studying how others have pulled it off in the past. So here are some examples of our favorite character descriptions from science fiction and fantasy books.

Top image by Tomasz Jendruszek.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (page 10):

“Ender did not see Peter as the beautiful ten-year-old boy that grown-ups saw, with dark, tousled hair and a face that could have belonged to Alexander the Great. Ender looked at Peter only to detect anger or boredom, the dangerous moods that almost always led to pain.” Nice construction, telling us how other people see Peter, but then juxtaposing it with the more visceral way that Ender sees him.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (page 30):

“… Face like the moon, pale and somehow wavering. I could get the gist of his features, but none of it stuck in my mind beyond an impression of astonishing beauty. His long, long hair wafted around him like black smoke, its tendrils curling and moving of their own volition. His cloak — or perhaps that was his hair too — shifted as if in an unfelt wind. I could not recall him wearing a cloak before, on the balcony. The madness still lurked in his face, but it was a quieter madness now, not the rabid-animal savagery of before. Something else — I could not bring myself to call it humanity — stirred underneath the gleam.” This is full of lovely imagery, including the hair and the cloak moving like smoke — and it leaves you with a really sharp impression even as you don’t ever get a clear impression of him, because Yeine doesn’t either. It’s like a painting that sticks with you.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (page 11):
“He was not conspicuously tall, his features were striking but not conspicuously handsome. His hair was wiry and gingerish and brushed backward from the temples. His skin seemed to be pulled backward from the nose. There was something very slightly odd about him, but it was difficult to say what it was. Perhaps it was that his eyes didn’t seem to blink often enough and when you talked to him for any length of time your eyes began involuntarily to water on his behalf. Perhaps it was that he smiled slightly too broadly and gave people the unnerving impression that he was about to go for their neck.” This description of Ford Prefect is sparky and full of action, you can practically see him smiling unblinkingly at you.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (page 274):

“The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was written the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars.” You can almost feel night gathering as you read that passage, from the gray of evening to the appearance of the night sky, and the overall impression is one of great age despite the claim of agelessness.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (page 98):

“She’s the twelve-year-old, the one who reminded me so of Prim in stature. Up close she looks about ten. She has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin and stands tilted up on her toes with arms slightly extended to her sides, as if ready to take wing at the slightest sound. It’s impossible not to think of a bird.” A lot of the best character descriptions have action or a element of movement to them, so you not only see the character, you see her in motion. (Doris Lessing has a good passage about this in one of her Martha Quest novels.) Here, we get Rue’s physical details, but we also have an indelible sense of how she moves.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (page 39):

“Black-haired and slender, wearing the huge new dust-filtering glasses, she approached his car, her hands deep in the pockets of her brightly striped long coat. She had, on her sharply defined small face, an expression of sullen distaste.” The body language, with the hands deep in the coat pockets, is super clear — you can practically see her hunching over. And you have to love the giant glasses and the “sharply defined small face.”

Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Soulless by Gail Carriger (page 8):
“The fourth Earl of Woolsey was much larger than Professor Lyall and in possession of a near-permanent frown. Or at least he always seemed to be frowning when he was in the presence of Miss Alexia Tarabotti, ever since the hedgehog incident (which really, honestly, had not been her fault). He also had unreasonably pretty tawny eyes, mahogany-colored hair, and a particularly nice nose.” What’s great here is that you digress into backstory that gives you a tantalizing hint about this character’s bad temper, and then suddenly you’re snapped back into very concrete physical description — but the physical description seems sharper because you’ve gotten this impression of Lord Maccon as a person.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (page 2):

“These sharps were dressed in the heighth of fashion too, with purple and green and orange wigs on their gullivers. Each one not costing less than three or four weeks of those sharps’ wages, I should reckon, and make-up to match (rainbows round the glazzies, that is, and the rot painted very wide). Then they had long black very straight dresses, and on the groody part of them they had little badges of like silver with different malchick’s names on them-Joe and Mike and suchalike.” Describing the three devotchkas, Burgess gives us a crash course in dystopian future fashion.

Dune by Frank Herbert (page 459):

“Through the door came two Sardukar herding a girl-child who appeared to be about four years old. She wore a black aba, the hood thrown back to reveal the attachments of a stillsuit hanging free at her throat. Her eyes were Fremen blue, staring out of a soft, round face. She appeared completely unafraid and there was a look to her stare that made the Baron feel uneasy for no reason he could explain.” Your immediate impression of Alia is one of power and disturbing intensity. But there’s a lot of implied violence in the description too — the hood that’s “thrown back” and the emphasis on her bare throat. It’s immediately intense and gripping.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (page 8):

“If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild — long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins.” The idea that Hagrid is “simply too big to be allowed” is fantastic — it’s the Dursleys’ viewpoint seeping through, but also maximizes how big and unruly he seems. And his feet are like baby dolphins! It’s comical and totally lodges itself in your brain.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (page 23):

“He was a funny-looking child who became a funny-looking youth — tall and weak, and shaped like a bottle of Coca-Cola.” I love the pithiness of Vonnegut, the quirky images that say a lot in a few words.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (page 22):

“Without the coat, her body had a lean look to it — as if she worked too long, and ate too little or too poorly. Her gloves and tall brown boots were caked with the filth of the plant, and she was wearing pants like a man. Her long, dark hair was piled up and back, but two shifts of labor had picked it apart and heavy strands had scattered, escaping the combs she’d used to hold it all aloft.” This is another description that gives you both the physical details but also a sense of who Briar is, and exactly how poverty and hard labor have affected her.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (page 12):
“She was a bold-looking girl of about twenty-seven, with thick dark hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times around her waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.” I love the irony of the anti-sex sash bringing out the shapeliness of Julia’s hips, but also the repeated suggestions that she’s bold and fast-moving.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (page 7):

“There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar’s eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelry; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing alike.” I love how the first sentence sets you up to believe the two characters are almost identical, and by the time the expectation is subverted, you’ve gotten a very clear impression of both of them because you’ve been paying extra-careful attention.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (page 4):

“He knew that when he returned to the firehouse, he might wink at himself, a minstrel man, burnt-corked, in the mirror. Later, going to sleep, he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark. It never went away, that smile, it never ever went away, as long as he remembered.” It’s not exactly a description, but it gives us a vivid impression of Guy Montag, his creepy smile and his burnt face.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (page 12):

“Lord Asriel was a tall man with powerful shoulders, a fierce dark face, and eyes that seemed to flash and glitter with savage laughter. It was a face to be dominated by, or to fight: never a face to patronize or pity. All his movements were large and perfectly balanced, like those of a wild animal, and when he appeared in a room like this, he seemed a wild animal held in a cage too small for it.” I love the idea that his movements can be both huge and completely controlled, and that his face tells you what the two proper responses to it are.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (page 4):

“Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room. He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say.” It’s funny how a lot of descriptions leave some things unresolved, like the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning’s age — but you know that he’s someone who “advances” into a room rather than strolling in, and he’s always talking and displaying his giant teeth.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (page 40):
“Fifteen years past, when they had ridden forth to win a throne, the Lord of Storm’s End had been clean-shaven, clear-eyed, and muscled like a maiden’s fantasy. Six and a half feet tall, he towered over lesser men, and when he donned the armor and the great antlered helmet of his house, he became a veritable giant. He’d had a giant’s strength too, his weapon of choice a spiked iron warhammer that Ned could scarcely lift. In those days, the smell of leather and blood had clung to him like perfume.

“Now it was perfume that clung to him like perfume, and he had a girth to match his height. Ned had last seen the king nine years before during Balon Greyjoy’s rebellion, when the stag and the direwolf had joined to end the pretensions of the self-proclaimed King of the Iron Islands. Since the night they had stood side by side in Greyjoy’s fallen stronghold, where Robert had accepted the rebel lord’s surrender and Ned had taken his son Theon as hostage and ward, the king had gained at least eight stone. A beard as course and black as iron covered his jaw to hide his double chin and the sag of his royal jowls, but nothing could hide his stomach or the dark circles under his eyes.” Instead of a contrast between how other people see a character and the POV character sees him, as in Ender’s Game, you have a lovely contrast between how Robert appeared in his prime and how he appears now — which serves to accentuate his present decrepitude far more than a simple description would.

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Filed under Humor and Observations, Writing

77 Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies in 2013

This is an amazing round-up of science fiction and fantasy movies expected out this calendar year.  Thanks to the people of I09 and StumbleUpon from which I came across this.  Enjoy, and be sure to visit both sites, they rock.  reposted.


JAN 3, 2013 1:32 PM

77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

This year, legends walk the silver screen. From Captain Kirk to Superman, our greatest heroes are back, and facing their darkest hours. But 2013’s movies also include some brand new indies from Neill Blomkamp and Shane Carruth, plus a whole lot of fantasy insanity.

Here’s our complete guide to 77 science fiction and fantasy movies coming in 2013.

Note: Items with a * aren’t included in the 77-movie count, since they’re arguably not science fiction or fantasy. We’re just mentioning them because they’re comic-book adaptations, or we suspect they’ll get pretty fantastical.


All Superheroes Must Die (Jan. 4)
This is a indy superhero movie from Jason Trost, director of The FP (last year’s dystopian Dance Dance Revolution comedy) in which a group of superheroes lose their powers and are put through a series of brutal challenges. (Now available on VOD/iTunes/Amazon, in select theaters Friday.)
Outlook: It looks way less silly than The FP, and the trailers actually look tense and dark. And it has Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class) and James Remar (Dexter) in it. Could be fun.

77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

Storage 24 (Jan. 11)
Doctor Who‘s Noel Clarke stars in this thriller where a military cargo plane crashes in London, releasing its deadly cargo on the city — and a group of people are trapped in a storage facility with a horrific creature.
Outlook: The movie’s Rotten Tomatoes pageis a bloodbath. By all accounts, it really really sucks.

A Haunted House (Jan. 11)
Marlon Wayans stars in this horror spoof, in which a family moves into a house full of spirits and the wife gets possessed by one of them.
Outlook: Honestly, it’s Marlon Wayans making fun of really easy targets. But the trailer does contain the line, “I kicked you in your ghost balls.”

Mama (Jan. 18)
Guillermo del Toro produced this film, based on a creepy short, about two little orphan girls who survive in the wild for five years before being rescued and sent to live with their uncle and aunt (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain) — but is their dead mother still watching over them?
Outlook: The trailer and original short film are creepy as heck. Del Toro calls this film “claustrophobic,” and it might actually be better than last year’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which he also produced.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (Jan. 25)
Basically, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are all grown up, and now they’re hunting witches, including one played by Famke Janssen.
Outlook: It was pushed from last summer to January — usually a bad sign — but the trailers look like cheesy fun, especially the crazy anachronistic gatling guns and other weapons. Could be this year’s Season of the Witch. John Dies at the End (Jan. 25)
The long-awaited movie adaptation of David Wong’s cult novel about a drug called Soy Sauce that either kills you or lets you see paranormal weirdness — including the Lovecraftian horrors invading our world. Trailer here.
Outlook: Early reviews suggest it’s a highly entertaining yet frustrating ride in which director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho Tep) takes a lot of liberties with the book source material.


Warm Bodies (Feb. 1)
The adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel about a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who falls in love with one of the last remaining humans, and their love might have the power to transform the post-apocalyptic world.
Outlook: The trailers actually look freaking hilarious, and it’s from the director of 50/50, Jonathan Levine. The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (Feb. 1)
A sequel to The Haunting in Connecticut, except that it’s set in Georgia and it’s not a sequel. A family moves into a historic house in Georgia, only to find out they’re not the only thing living there.
Outlook: Ti West (The Innkeepers) was supposed to direct this film but dropped out just before filming started. On the other hand, it has Katee Sackhoff in it, and the trailer actually looks creepy.

The Sorcerer and the White Snake (Feb. 8)
A big-budget adaptation of the ancient Chinese fable about a female snake demon who falls in love with a mortal — and Jet Li plays the sorcerer who tries to slay her.
Outlook: Early reviews suggest the visuals are amazing, but the story is kind of weak.

Side Effects* (Feb. 8)
Stephen Soderbergh’s last ever film is about a woman (Rooney Mara) who takes a “revolutionary” new drug called Ablixa to cope with her husband (Channing Tatum) coming home from prison. And there are insane side effects.
Outlook: Looks pretty great. We’re including it here because the revolutionary new drug looks as though it could be pretty science-fictional.

77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

Beautiful Creatures (February 13)
One of the year’s many attempts to create a new Twilight, this film adapts the bestselling YA series about a young witch named Lena who becomes an outcast in a small town, and the boy who loves her anyway.
Outlook: It looks cheesy as all get-out, but the notion of using a supernatural teen drama to deal with bullying and peer pressure has a lot of potential. Plus Emma Thompson is in it.

Escape From Planet Earth (Feb. 14)
An intrepid alien astronaut (Brendan Fraser) answers a distress call from Earth — but it’s a trap, and he’s caught in Area 51, and it’s up to his nerdy brother Gary (Rob Corddry) to save him.
Outlook: The voice cast includes William Shatner, Jane Lynch and James Gandolfini. Could be this year’s Planet 51.

Dark Skies (Feb. 22)
Not based on the TV series. This is actually a low-budget horror film starring Kerri Russell, about a suburban family that’s terrorized by aliens. Trailer here.
Outlook: From the director of Priest and Legion. It only started production back in August 2012.


Jack the Giant Slayer (March 1)
A fairytale movie from X-Men maestro Bryan Singer, starring Nicholas Hoult as a farmhand who unwittingly opens a doorway to a land of giants, starting a war as the giants try to retake our world.
Outlook: Delayed from summer 2012. Sort of looks like Clash of the Titans, only taking itself more seriously. The Last Exorcism Part 2 (March 1)
The girl who was possibly possessed in the first movie is back, and she’s trying to move on with her life, except for that whole demonic possession thing.
Outlook: The director and writers of the original film aren’t back, and we’re not sure how you can do a sequel without undercutting the superb first movie.

Oz the Great and Powerful (March 8)
Sam Raimi’s long-awaited Wizard of Oz prequel, in which Oz (James Franco) goes to Oz in a balloon and meets all the witches and flying monkeys.
Outlook: The trailers look absolutely gorgeous, in an Avatar/Alice in Wonderlandway, although the story appears to be a standard “vain selfish rogue learns to be a hero” thing. The Croods (March 22)
An animated film about a caveman whose leadership is threatened by a genius who invents things like fire and other wacky gadgets. Oh, and there’s a half-tiger, half-parrot called a “Macarnivore.”
Outlook: This film has been in development for years. At one point the script was co-written by John Cleese. The cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Nic Cage, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener and Cloris Leachman(!). Early reviews say it’s pretty great.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (March 29)
Another movie delayed from summer, this sequel picks up where the first movie left off — with the President of the United States replaced by an evil imposter.
Outlook: Director Jon M. Chu wowed us with Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Rumor has it, this movie’s being recut to give Channing Tatum a bigger role, but it’s not clear if Tatum actually came back for re-shoots or if they’re just using every scrap of Tatum footage they could grab off the cutting-room floor.

The Host (March 29)
In Stephenie Meyer’s other big book adaptation, an alien invasion of Earth has already succeeded, with emotionless parasites controlling almost all humans. Except one girl who gets implanted can’t stop loving her boyfriend, and this could change everything. Trailer here.
Outlook: It’s adapted and directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), whose work is always at least thought-provoking. 


Upstream Color (April 5)
Primer’s Shane Carruth returns at last, with a strange and confusing movie about a man and a woman who are entangled in “the life cycle of an ageless organism.”
Outlook: Huge, high hopes for this one, based on the lush weird trailers and Carruth’s mind-bending first movie.

Evil Dead (April 12)
Sam Raimi’s famous horror series is back, with an all-new cast. Jane Levy plays a woman struggling to remain sober, who goes to a cabin with her friends and finds the Book of the Dead. You know what happens next.
Outlook: By all accounts, this new film is as gruesome and messed-up as the original, and new director Fede Alvarez seems to have captured Raimi’s insane spark. Fingers crossed. Scary Movie 5 (April 12)
This time, they’re spoofing Black Swan.
Outlook: Really, the title is all you need to know. Oh, you want to know more? Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan play themselves.

Oblivion (April 19/April 12 in IMAX)
Tron Legacy‘s Joseph Kosinski sets out to prove he can launch a brand new franchise, with this story in which humanity has abandoned Earth, except that Tom Cruise comes down to service some drones… and discovers he’s not alone.
Outlook: The trailers look pretty intense and full of eye-candy. A lot depends on the film’s big twist, probably. The Lords of Salem (April 26)
Rob Zombie wrote and directed this horror film in which a radio station DJ gets a mysterious record from the Lords and plays it — only to find that the Lords aren’t a band, they’re the original Lords of Salem, and they’re back for blood.
Outlook: Probably depends if you’re a Rob Zombie fan.


Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Now that Tony Stark’s helped save the world in The Avengers, this film is going to set about tearing him down again, with the Mandarin and Aldrich Killian destroying Tony’s entire world.
Outlook: Director Shane Black made magic with Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and writer Drew Pearce brought new life to superheroes with his TV show No Heroics. So fingers crossed! Kiss of the Damned (May 3)
John Cassavetes’ daughter Xan Cassavetes makes her directorial debut with this tribute to 1960s and 1970s Italian vampire movies, starring Heroes’ Milo Ventimiglia.
Outlook: Early reviews suggest this is a “hipster” take on vampire lore that doesn’t really hold up.

About Time (May 10)
A feel-good romance about a man who can travel backwards in time, and decides to use his powers to get a girlfriend.
Outlook: Writer-director Richard Curtis wowed us with his Doctor Who episode about Van Gogh, not to mention his work on Blackadder and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)
The rebooted versions of Kirk and Spock are back — and they’re facing a mysterious villain (Benedict Cumberbatch) who’s wreaking massive destruction on Starfleet. Can Kirk grow up in time to save the Enterprise?
Outlook: This film’s production was delayed a year, reportedly just because they were trying to get the script right. Let’s hope that attention to the story pays off. Epic (May 24)
An animated fairytale movie based on the based on the William Joyce book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. Featuring the voices of Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hutcherson.
Outlook: The first trailer looked pretty lush and beautiful. Director Chris Wedge, who did the first Ice Age, describes it as an adventure on the scale of Star Wars.

The Purge (May 31)
Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey star in this weird movie set in a dystopian future, where overcrowding has forced the United States to institute a 12-hour period every year, during which nothing is a crime. Even murder. One family hides out in their gated community.
Outlook: Even as contrived dystopias go, this one sounds especially contrived. But possibly fun and insane.


After Earth (June 7)
Will Smith and his son Jaden star in this movie where humanity has abandoned the Earth after a war with aliens — but a father and son crashland on the ruined Earth, and the father is injured, forcing the son to search for help.
Outlook: M. Night Shyamalan directed and co-wrote this film, but probably didn’t have his usual level of creative control. The visuals certainly look great. This is the End aka The End of the World (June 14)
Seth Rogen adapts his short film Jay and Seth Vs. The Apocalypse. Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco and a bunch of other celebrities play themselves, at a Hollywood party where the end of the world suddenly happens. Here’s the trailer.
Outlook: Remember how Bill Murray played himself randomly in Zombieland? This whole movie is like that. Let’s hope it stays funny.

Man of Steel (June 14)
A retelling of Superman’s origin, in which the Man of Steel grapples with the idea that humanity would hate and fear him if they knew his secret. Here’s the trailer.
Outlook: Christopher Nolan produced this film, and seems pretty jazzed about it. Probably depends how much you want to see an angsty Superman. Monsters University (June 21)
The prequel to Monsters Inc. sees the young Sully and Mike in college, becoming friends and dealing with an evil monster fraternity.
Outlook: Did we really need a prequel toMonsters Inc.? Maybe not. But as long as it’s not another Cars 2, we’re happy.

World War Z (June 21)
Max Brooks’ acclaimed novel about the zombie apocalypse gets a huge adaptation, starring Brad Pitt as a UN employee who must travel the world trying to save it from the deadly pandemic. Trailer here.
Outlook: After this film was completed, they went back for massive reshoots and rewrites, with a whole new ending added by Damon Lindelof. On the other hand, it’s possibly the most zombies on screen ever. Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall (June 28)
The gonzo superhero film gets a sequel, as Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl try to cope with high school and the Red Mist plots revenge.
Outlook: Let’s hope it can channel half the awesome craziness of the first film. A good sign: Jim Carrey is playing a character named Colonel Stars and Stripes.

White House Down* (June 28)
Terrorists take over the White House, and only Channing Tatum can save the president (Jamie Foxx).
Outlook: Only mentioning this because it’s directed by Roland Emmerich and I wouldn’t be surprised if the terrorists have crazy science fiction weapons or something.


Despicable Me 2 (July 3)
Steve Carrell’s reformed supervillain is back — and this time, someone is capturing his cute twinkie-like minions. Featuring Al Pacino as Gru’s new nemesis.
Outlook: The original directors are back, which is a good sign.

The Lone Ranger (July 3)
Johnny Depp plays Tonto in this completely insane supernatural Western about a “spirit walker” who dies and comes back to bring justice to a small town near the railroad.Here’s the trailer.
Outlook: Depp and director Gore Verbinski have a pretty decent track record together, but everything about this looks horrifying. Depp decided Tonto should have a bird on his head. 

Pacific Rim (July 12)
Massive, horrendous monsters attack the world — forcing the human race to build equally massive mecha to fight back, by punching them.
Outlook: Director Guillermo del Toro promises the most amazing monsters and astounding robots we’ve ever seen, and the first trailer certainly looks like it delivers. 77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

R.I.P.D. (July 19)
Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges star in this adaptation of the comic book about a dead cop who sticks around to police the supernatural — but he can never see his still-living wife again.
Outlook: It sounds like it has the potential to be the next Ghostbusters, and Jeff Bridges as a ghost mentor is basically the best idea ever.

The Conjuring (July 19)
A family encounters spirits living in their New England farmhouse.
Outlook: From director James Wan (Insidious) — so it’s probably pretty scary.

77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

The Wolverine (July 26)
A second Wolverine movie, this time based on the character’s most popular storyline in which he goes to Japan and learns the way of the Samurai.
Outlook: We were more excited when it was going to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, but it still has a lot of potential to be fun. Hopefully better than the last Wolverine movie, anyway.

Smurfs 2 (July 31)
The evil wizard Gargamel is still stuck in New York, so he does some magic to bring back the Smurfs — and also create evil albino Smurfs, who try to trick Smurfette into being naughty.
Outlook: If you liked the first Smurf movie and the idea of albino Smurf peer pressure doesn’t bother you, then you might like this one, too.


300: Rise of an Empire* (August 2)
A prequel to 300, charting the rise of King Xerxes, the ruler who got his ass kicked by the Spartans.
Outlook: A first-time director came on board to try and recreate Zack Snyder’s amazing slow-mo fighting and visuals. Including this because it’s based on a comic book.

RED 2* (August 2)
The sequel to the surprisingly quite entertaining film about retired spies who are being hunted down. This time, they have to stop a terrorist with a portable nuclear device.
Outlook: Another one we’re mentioning since it’s based on comic-book source material.

Elysium (August 9)
District 9‘s Neill Blomkamp returns with another highly political science fiction film about a world where the rich live on a lush space station and poor people (like Matt Damon) struggle on Earth to get healthcare and basic necessities.
Outlook: Based on Blomkamp’s first film and everything he’s said about this one, we have high hopes. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Aug. 16)
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is back, and this time he and his friends are searching for the mystical Golden Fleece.
Outlook: Nathan Fillion is playing the god Hermes, opposite Sean Bean as Zeus. Also Anthony Head plays the centaur Chiron this time. We’re in.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones(Aug. 23)
Another would-be Twilight, this adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s novel features a young girl named Clary (Lily Collins) who discovers that she has a supernatural destiny after a demon attacks her mother. Here’s the trailer.
Outlook: Looks like an immense guilty pleasure. Insidious Chapter 2 (August 30)
Director James Wan is back to show us what happened after the WTF ending of the first movie about a boy who’s possessed by demons.
Outlook: Not sure how you can pick up after that ending, but at least all the original cast are back, including Barbara Hershey.

Satanic (August 30)
A “Rosemary’s Baby-influenced” film about a girl (Ashley Green) who must defend her dorm from a mysterious attacker when she and her friends are staying there over Spring Break.
Outlook: From the director of Donkey Punch and the writer of Vanishing on 7th Street. It only started production in late 2012.


77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

Riddick (September 6)
He’s back! Vin Diesel’s amazingly antiheroic space adventurer returns, and this time he’s being stalked by bounty hunters. One of whom is Katee Sackhoff.
Outlook: Diesel and writer/director David Twohy promise this is a return to Pitch Blackform, after the over-the-top Chronicles of Riddick.

I, Frankenstein (September 13)
Aaron Eckhart plays Frankenstein’s monster, who finds himself caught up in an endless war between two immortal monster clans.
Outlook: Could be fun. Director Stuart Beattie did a pretty decent job with Tomorrow When the War Began.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sept. 27)
The sequel to the acclaimed animated film, formerly called Revenge of the Leftovers. Flint has moved on after the foodstorm from the first movie — until he finds out his machine is still active and is creating food monsters.
Outlook: The original writers and directors aren’t back, and it’s not based on the second book in the series.

The Tomb (September 27)
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone star in this action-thriller about a structural engineer who is falsely accused of a crime and has to break out of the ultimate high-tech prison… which he designed.
Outlook: We’re a sucker for “ultimate high-tech prison” stories. 


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For* (Oct. 4)
The long-awaited sequel to Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s zany neo-noir film about the town with no mercy, where all the women wear lingerie.
Outlook: Including this because it’s based on a comic, and is likely to be so over the top that it strays into fantasy territory.

Haunt (October 11)
Two teenagers fall in love and explore an old house, only to discover a terrifying alternate dimension inside, in this horror film.
Outlook: From the producers of Paranormal Activity and District 9.

The Devil’s Rapture (October 11)
Formerly known as The Occult, this is a film about a small town that lives with a Satanic prophecy — and after six girls are born on the same night, they seem to be fulfilling it. Fast forward 18 years, and the girls all start dying. Serial killer, or Satan?
Outlook: Featuring Rufus Sewell, who often does creepy well, plus Colm Meaney.

Carrie (October 18)
Delayed from March, this is the remake of the classic Stephen King tale, about a girl who has a really bad prom night. Trailer is here.
Outlook: Director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) and star Chloë Grace Moretz seem like the perfect choices for this project — plus Julianne Moore plays the mom. 

Seventh Son (October 18)
Jeff Bridges is an old witch-hunter, as he takes on a young apprentice and prepares to do battle with a witch played by Julianne Moore. Who basically owns this weekend.
Outlook: We can’t say no to Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore as witch-hunter and witch. The World’s End (October 25)
The other zany apocalyptic comedy, this one features Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two friends who go on a pub crawl and confront the end of days. Along with Martin Freeman.
Outlook: It’s the long-awaited third film in the “Cornetto Trilogy” by Pegg, Frost and director Edgar Wright, after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

Paranormal Activity 5 (Oct. 25)
Something paranormal is happening, and some cameras are going to capture it, but not very well.
Outlook: Someone is still going to see these movies, so they’re going to keep making them every year.


Ender’s Game (Nov. 1)
“Ender” Wiggin is a child prodigy who gets recruited to a very special program — but it’s even more special than he realized, in the adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s acclaimed novel.
Outlook: Everyone involved with this film seems to be obsessed with doing justice to the book, and the level of attention to detail is pretty astounding. Plus Harrison Ford is playing Col. Graff. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Nov. 1)
The classic cartoon about a super-smart dog, his human son, and their time machine is coming to the big screen — and the Child Protective Services may have decided that a dog is not a fit parent, after all.
Outlook: We saw a huge chunk of this film recently, and it won us over, big time.

Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8)
The second Marvel film this year, coming offAvengers, sees Thor facing some Dark Elves, led by Christopher Eccleston.
Outlook: Directed by Game of Thronesveteran Alan Taylor, who’s apparently bringing some of that realism to Asgard. 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Nov. 22)
Katniss has won the Hunger Games, so this second movie is probably just going to be her sipping tea and learning to golf. Or possibly, getting sent back for a new, deadlier all-star games. We’ll see.
Outlook: Original director Gary Ross bailed off the project, so he’s been replaced by I Am Legend‘s Francis Lawrence. Let’s hope Lawrence can do justice to, arguably, the least satisfying book in the trilogy. Frozen (November 27)
Disney’s retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” about a young girl who must travel to find the Snow Queen and save her land from perpetual winter.
Outlook: Early glimpses look gorgeous, and it features the voice of Kristen Bell.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug(Dec. 13)
Bilbo Baggins is back again, and this time he’s facing a dragon — played by Benedict Cumberbatch!
Outlook: If the decision to turn The Hobbitinto a trilogy rather than a duology results in excessive bloat, this is probably the film where you’re going to see it most. Walking With Dinosaurs (December 20)
The BBC makes a lavish, 3D version of their acclaimed TV series, about a dinosaur family who must go on a perilous journey.
Outlook: Early buzz suggests that this is going to look astonishing — but turning a documentary series into a narrative film could be a tricky undertaking.

Saving Mr. Banks* (December 20)
A drama about author P.L. Travers going to London as Disney is adapting her novel Mary Poppins to the big screen.
Outlook: Including this since it’s a fictional account of the making of a classic fantasy movie. Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney!

47 Ronin (December 25)
Another long-delayed film, this one is a retelling of the Japanese story, with Keanu Reeves fighting supernatural forces.
Outlook: This has been pushed back again and again, amidst rumors of creative disputes and editing-suite battles, until finally being buried on Christmas, the date where genre films go to die.


These are films we’re pretty sure are coming in 2013, but no release date yet.

Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men) directs this lavish film about an astronaut (Sandra Bullock) who’s stranded in space and trying to return to the International Space Station.
Outlook: Early buzz suggests it’s beautiful, but maybe a bit boring. On the other hand, we’re dying for a good realistic space movie.

Frankenstein’s Army
At the end of World War II, Russian soldiers stumble on a secret Nazi lab, where the Nazis have been using Frankenstein’s techniques to create new supersoldiers. A Dutch movie, which should be hitting our screens sometime this year.
Outlook: Nazi Frankenstein monsters? Sounds promising.

The Prototype
A military robot escapes from an FBI storage facility and goes on a rampage. A small, low-budget film from the makers of the low-budget soldier movie Act of Valor.
Outlook: The trailer and pitch video look pretty cool, and this movie was made for a surprisingly high $40 million. 

77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

Neil Jordan returns to vampires for the first time since Interview with a Vampire for this story of two vampires (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) who pose as mother and daughter.
Outlook: Early buzz suggests it’s Jordan’s best work in years, and could be a sleeper hit.

77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson plays an alien, disguised as a beautiful woman, who travels around Scotland preying on humans with her “voracious sexuality.”
Outlook: At the very least, it sounds entertaining.

Instead of getting to direct Neuromancer, Vincenzo Natali took on this ghost movie, starring Abigail Breslin as a teenager who died in 1986 but is unable to leave her family’s house, and reaches out to save a living girl from the same fate.
Outlook: It’s a neat reversal of the usual ghost-movie tropes, and we’re curious to see how Natali will make the tired haunted-house stuff fresh again.

Snow Piercer
Chris Evans stars in Bong Joon-ho’s adaptation of the French comic book set on a frozen Earth, where everybody lives on trains that are highly class-segregated. Probably coming in the summer, since the Weinstein Company reportedly sees this as a big tentpole movie.
Outlook: The comic is really weird and beautiful, and our first glimpse of this film was amazing. Plus we loved Bong’s The Host. 7500
Another long-delayed film, this one is about an airplane that gets haunted by a ghost. StarringTrue Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten.
Outlook: This film has been in the can for a long time, so it’s not looking good.

In Your Eyes
Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay for this tiny-budget romance about a man and a woman (Michael Stahl-David and Zoe Kazan) who are linked in ways that they can’t possibly realize.
Outlook: When Whedon steps back to do a small indie project, it’s usually even better than his other stuff. Fingers crossed!

77 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies to Watch Out For in 2013

Odd Thomas
The big-screen adaptation of Dean Koontz’s bestselling book series, starring Anton Yelchin. It’s been in the can for a while, and is almost certainly coming this year.
Outlook: Koontz says this is the only movie adaptation of his work that he’s ever been happy with.

Left Behind
They’re rebooting the classic rapture series — and Nic Cage is starring! By all accounts, it’ll be out in the fourth quarter of 2013 sometime.
Outlook: Nic Cage starring in a movie about the Rapture. That either fills you with glee, or it doesn’t.

Dorothy of Oz
Another movie that’s been done for a while, featuring Glee‘s Lea Michele as Dorothy.
Outlook: The first trailer looked like a terrible 1990s video game cutscene.

Sources: Studio press releases, plus IMDBBox Office MojoFilm-ReleasesFirst ShowingThe Numbers and Movie Insider


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Ten Superweapons from Science Fiction

Reposted from I09 by  CHARLIE JANE ANDERS MAR 8, 2011

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons

War is hell. But an ultimate weapon is hella cool.

Seriously, there’s nothing more awesome than a weapon that can devastate anyone who gets in its way. After all, everybody loves destruction porn and apocalyptic movies like 2012. And there’s nothing cooler than all-out warfare in space — the most popular science fiction movie series is not called Star Peace, after all. What do you get when you put space battles and destruction porn together? The ultimate weapon.

Here are the 10 greatest ultimate weapons in any galaxy.

Top image: Reign of Fire by Inga Nielsen.

Note: These are weapons, but the list doesn’t really include super-beings that were apparently not designed as weapons in the first place. So no Unicron and no Galactus. Sorry!

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons10) Nova-Bombs (Andromeda, Halo, tons of other things)
The idea of a “Nova Bomb,” that turns a sun supernova, is ridiculously common in science fiction, and it pretty much never gets old. Even the Hand of Omega, the ballyhooed weapon in Doctor Who, seems to be a form of Nova Bomb. In Andromeda, a Glorious Heritage class Systems Commonwealth ship carries 40 Nova Bombs, which use anti-gravity to make a sun explode. In Halo, the Nova Bomb is nine fusion warheads encased in lithium triteride armor. There are alsoNova Bombs in several novels, including Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Haldeman’sThe Forever War.

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons9) The Lexx (Lexx)
As the Lexx explains in an introductory speech, “I am the most powerful weapon of destruction in the two universes. I was grown on The Cluster which is ruled by His Shadow. The food was good there. My captain is Stanley Tweedle. I blow up planets for him.” So yeah, the Lexx is sentient, but is still basically a weapon — and it sort of eats planets. The Lexx was originally developed as the ultimate deterrent for His Divine Shadow to keep the “Heretic” worlds in line.

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons8) The Dakara Superweapon (Stargate SG-1)
Built by the Ancients, this weapon has the ability to destroy all life on hundreds of worlds at one time, and can penetrate almost any ship’s shields. It reduces all matter to its basic structure, and the wave can propagate through an active stargate to reach everything on the other side. And that’s before Ba’al modified the device so it could pass through every stargate in the galaxy simultaneously, potentially wiping out every inhabited world in the Milky Way at once. (There’s also the wormhole weapon which John Crichton builds in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, which has a similar sort of reach.)

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons7) The Little Doctor, aka Molecular Disruption Device (Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card)
The M.D. Device, nicknamed “Little Doctor,”makes it impossible for any two atoms to coexist in a molecule. The weapon creates a spherical field within which this is the physical property, causing total destruction of the target. This device can penetrate the aliens’ shields, making it the perfect weapon in our war against the aliens — and indeed, Ender manages to use it to destroy the aliens’ homeworld. Image by Ziwu on DeviantArt

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons6) Obliterators (Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert)
Also known as The Weapon. The Honored Matres wield these powerful missiles, launched from a starship — they combust the atmosphere of a planet and then scorch the surface. When the Matres use the weapon against Arrakis, it fuses the planet’s sand into glass, and kills all life on the surface, humans and sandworms alike. Some speculate that the planet killers of the Shadows from Babylon 5 work similarly to the Obliterators.

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons5) Warworld (DC Comics)
Pretty much does what it says on the label — it’s a whole planet-sized planet-killer, piloted by the maniacal Mongul. In original continuity, it was created by the Warzoons, a race so warlike they had “war” in their name. And it’s powerful enough to make whoever controls it the ruler of an empire — unless they tangle with Superman, in which case it’s not all that powerful. Brainac and the Cyborg Superman also got into the Warworld-piloting game, and at one point Brainy turned Pluto into a new Warworld.

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons4) Wave Motion Gun (Space Battleship Yamato, aka Star Blazers)
It’s the weapon so devastating, it can only be represented using breakdancing. The space battleship Yamato has the ability to channel all the power of its wave motion engine into a single super-powerful blast, strong enough to wipe out a whole enemy fleet. It’s so powerful, it leaves the ship powerless and adrift for a while after firing.

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons3) The Sphere-O-Boom (Futurama)
Say what you like about Hubert Farnsworth, he does love his super doomsday weapons. He’s got a whole slew of them, but the Sphere-O-Boom (also spelled spheroboom in some places) is his favorite. It causes a spectacular blast, destroying the ship of the Scammers, who had tried to steal it. It warps space and time, and destroys anyone not wearing a “doom-proof platinum vest.”

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons2) The Doomsday Machine (Star Trek)
I don’t think we ever learned who built this machine or what powers it, exactly — the mystery is part of what makes it so menacing and awful. It’s just a giant inexplicable space carrot that goes around pulverizing planets and using them as fuel. The Enterprise crew entertains the theory that it was built for some long-ago interstellar war and then got away, but we’ll never know for sure. One thing we do know: It takes a whole starship, exploding inside the thing, to knock it out of operation.

10 Most Awesome Ultimate Weapons1) The Death Star (Star Wars)
You kind of knew we had to include this. The fully operational battle station that takes out the defenseless world of Alderaan in a heartbeat. According to estimates, the upper range of the Death Star’s power is 10^38 joules, or as much energy as our own sun generates in 8,000 years. Plus it just looks fucking scary, it’s like a perfectly round cyclops skull in space. And it’s no moon!

Sources: Mostly I just made this up on my own. But Wikipedia was somewhat helpful, and so was TVTropes. Also, after I’d already finished the article and was looking for pictures, I stumbled on these somewhat overlapping lists at DVice. and Wired.

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